Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? (James 2:5 ESV)
My first trip to Haiti in September 2007 just happened to have me reading through the bible when this verse was on my schedule. And it has always stuck with me since that trip.
When we think of Haiti, many times it is thought of as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Or, the island that has been struck with hardships such as the earthquake of 2010, or the cholera outbreak that happened and has claimed the life of over 8,000 people. Or, maybe it is simply that poor country in the Caribbean plagued with corruption.
Negative media can be found anywhere, but when I look at Haiti, James 2:5 sticks out. Haiti is the “poor” if the world to the westernized nations. We look at their way of life, lack of goods, and numerous other published issues and define them in that way.
But experiencing Haiti in the sense we experience it completely shows the verse in James to be true. While there is an obvious financial difference shown…the truth is, we each feel as though we are in poverty as we serve in Haiti.
Jamie Harger and I have sat and simply talked through this very observation. At night, as we sit on the porch, it transcends the human side of things. It is not a group of Americans and a group of Haitian children laughing and singing. There is something more. As we sing All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name, there is worship. There is spiritual refreshment. And the truth is, it is typically the Americans who are brought into worship.
It is every day life for the Haitian children and people to worship each day. Singing and spending time together is a way of life. And as we are able to experience it and worship it fills us. It refreshes us. It shows that we are the ones who are poor, as our Haitian brothers and sisters, though “poor” by the world’s standards, are truly rich in faith. And their faith ministers to each of us. It is because of them that we come home with a burden. Not to change their way of life or thinking. In fact, my burden is not even for the Haitians. My burden is for myself.
My hope is that I will have the faith that exudes worship in all that I do. I want the faith that walks daily with Christ. I want a faith that can bring others into the presence of God, simply by being with me.
I am poor. But each time I experience Haiti, I find myself to be the richest man in the world.